Setting the Pace June 03, 2016 22:10

This week I started a new game with some friends, and while we were writing out characters and coordinating our party setup, we got onto the topic of experience rewards and how they set the pace of the campaign. One of my friends brought up an interesting technique he uses to control the length of his campaigns, and that got me thinking of other ways to extend or control how quickly your players can level up or improve within your games.

Limited XP Options

Let’s start with the technique that spurred my thoughts. When writing out your campaign notes, it can be messy parsing out the experience rewards from the plethora of choices the players can make. Instead, set up specific events that must take place before your players gain experience; maybe restrict experience gaining to anything that progresses the plot. This helps to cut out experience grinding from parties that want to hunt down goblins one hundred times before facing a major foe. By using this method you can also reward the party with currency or rare items without quickly tilting the scales. Remember, the party needs a challenge or they will get bored.

Keep Them Poor

Similar to the previous technique, you can opt to make sure your party has a lot of work ahead of them before they can buy that special gear they’ve been eyeing. This may seem cruel, but a party lacking resources will be forced to think outside the box to overcome a situation, and this can often lead to creative and amusing solutions. Can’t afford to buy a missile launcher? Buy a missile and make do! Smash it with a hammer until it explodes, or rig it up with some sort of fuse. A low budget shouldn’t stop your party.

Skimming Off the Top

If you want to add an element of realistic chaos, then consider how the world would react to a bunch of active adventurers keeping wealth on their person. It could be stolen, or suddenly their landlord is charging more rent. Maybe they have to pay for destruction of property and that’s taken out of their reward. Even when the party is out adventuring, maybe merchants will mark up prices when inquiring wallets walk by. Doing this makes any significant reward suddenly more cherished, and cultivates uncertainty.

With these techniques, you can extend your campaign with ease. Use any combination as you like, but also make sure the party won’t get too upset. It’s one thing to provide a challenge, and another to bully your party. If any of your players are sensitive to this kind of narrating, make sure they are informed and won’t take offense.

If you have any narration techniques you would like to share, please comment below. I’d love to see what you guys do to entertain your party. Thank you for reading and, until next time, Cheers and Gears!